Saturday, May 17, 2008

Kerry Reads The Paper!

Oh come on--you didn't think I could let this article pass without comment?

Truthfully, I'm of mixed thoughts. I hope it works out for the Harris family, although they seem to be class A freaks in a bit of a manic cycle who clearly haven't thought the whole organic homesteading in Vermont thing through. Voluntary simplicity is great and a whole lot easier when you have access to services or a stream of castoff goods or a cash stash. Otherwise, it's just being poor and there's a lot of poverty in rural New England. Planning, people.

And no, no you don't have necessarily have internet access in the woods.

I have had a long term fascination with people who do this sort of thing, since I really can't. It dates to reading Louise Dickinson Rich's We Took To The Woods as a child in a Reader's Digest Condensed Books collection.

I have sympathy for their plight in attempting to give away their belongings (although giving it away to charity instead of holding a huge garage sale is dumb, no matter how you try to dress up "I can't assign a value to things!"). I've given away or sold 80% of what I own and it really took me 18 months because of indecision and emotional attachments. I had a bit of a hoarding problem too. It's very freeing in the end to not have much. What I've learned is that nothing has value once it's out of the store. If you're not picky, creative and willing to make do, you can get so much for free. There is so much in this country to scrounge.


Lisa S. said...

I saw that article yesterday and rolled my eyes -- HARD -- at the Harrises.

Personally, I am suspicious of the "voluntary simplicity" thing. I have seen social acquaintances try this and discover, after all their "distracting" stuff is gone, that they're no closer to figuring out What Really Matters In Life because the problem wasn't the $500 set of Calphalon, the problem was that these people lacked the inner resources to examine their lives and articulate their spiritual/ethical values in the first place.

On a less nastily cynical note: I am very impressed by your stuff divestment. You're very patient and persistent.

Kerry said...

Exactly--you can lead a simple life anywhere if you know what's important to you. And frankly having 2 kids in a Vermont shack with no electric and a woodstove is to me more complex and stressful than ordinary suburban living.

Thanks--it was a surprising process. Priorities kept changing and I got overwhelmed. But the trip to AZ last month was a big kick in the pants, and then when I got rid of a few key items, it got much easier. I had a kitchen table in the attic (not my choice) and once it was gone I had the attic broom clean in 3 days.